Biosphere Earth — 20: Regrowing a Beautiful Biosphere
First of all — it’s the right goal.
It should be the first goal of human society to have as robust a life-support system on Earth as it possibly can.
Then, perhaps, supplying all of humanity with shelter, healthy food and clean water on a daily basis will become achievable and reliable, the climate un-changed, and Life saved. Once all of that is locked down, we can talk about economic growth and sustaining large, capital gains.
Most modern humans always thought our life-support system was guaranteed, if we thought about it at all. That’s changing. A lot of science on the “impending collapse” of the human life-support system has been published in the last 2 years and the bad news is we have less than 10 years now to turn this situation around.
We thought we were living inside a forever-biosphere when we “converted” the forests, paved over other creatures, turned soils into factories, burned fossil fuels, made our rivers into sewers, commodified minerals, overfished, created a culture of consumption without replenishment, and claimed humanity über alles!
We thought the complex-life-system that built us would always be there. Now we have less than 10 years to transform everything wrong with our economy, rebuild the foundation of our life-support system, and save ourselves.
Tall order? Maybe.
As far as reducing greenhouse emissions — reforestation and rewilding could not make more sense. They’re fast and cheap and they gain in strength and security as they grow and regrow communities, compounding in carbon accrual for decades to millenia.
But science says we should consider the massive greenhouse absorption trees, seaweeds, soils, vegetation, and wild animals provide a secondary benefit to their systemic, bio-physical benefits.
The primary rationale for wilderness reconstruction is the bio-physical trifecta: 1) moisture cycle restoration, 2) heat reduction, 3) carbon absorption.
There are many “ROIs”, but isn’t this the biggest of all? Science shows we can reduce temperatures and increase hydrological circulation worldwide if we focus on reforesting and revegetating Tropical lands. That’s priority 1, done. In addition, rewilding the Earth restores habitats, saves species from extinction, grows food, prevents catastrophic failure of our food system, increases aesthetic inspiration and spiritual engagement…and so on.
We don’t need more technology. We need more biosphere. And we need technology to work in service of that necessity.
Just like your body, Biosphere Earth depends on a non-fragmented architecture to function. Somehow Civilization didn’t get that memo.
Instead we, the descendants of the colonizers, who built the Internet and Hollywood and the Industrial economy and the United States of America built a self-destructive economy instead.
Your body is a biophere: a contained biological matrix of organisms in relationship, exchanging moisture and nutrients, maintaining a productive bio-physical system (you).
If you lose your lungs — bad. If your kidneys are disabled — bad. Diminish your Heart, circulatory system, and/or lymphatic system’s effectiveness— Bad, Bad, Bad. Yet, that’s what we’ve done to our planet.
Biosphere Earth’s wildernesses provide similar functions as our body’s organs for the planetary ecosystem. Size matters. Connectedness matters. Integrity matters.
Earth’s remaining wildernesses
Today, less than 23% of lands and 13% of oceans have 3,800 square miles of contiguous area uninterrupted by humans. The blue & green below show Earth’s remaining wildernesses.
We have de-biosphered Biosphere Earth. Our life support system’s organs have nearly been eradicated. It’s even worse than all of that, actually. Of the remaining wildernesses, the majority are unproductive or low-productivity (see map below). The Sahara desert, the Gobi desert, the Outback, these will not keep us alive. The frozen forests of Canada and Russia, which comprise the majority of remaining wild lands, are only productive when it’s warm. Remaining ocean wilds are generally either inaccessible or un-productive. And the integrity of virtually all-remaining ecosystems today has been mostly eradicated, because modern humans.
We must rebuild wilderness integrity, functionality, and footprint to continue on this planet. We want to see wilderness and wildlife corridors reconstructed and reconnected from state to state, you know, all around the world. This is the right goal, re-biospherification. This series has explored why and what it could mean. We’re not there today, but it is where we need to go.
Getting there is laid-out in the final four blogs of this series. It is the combination of these biospheric priorities that provides a model for biospheric securitization on Earth, the wilderness planet. Here’s a review of those four priorities:
- Reconstruct: wilderness ecosystem functionality, primarily in the Tropics.
- Integrate: vegetation and wilderness into our daily lives, no matter where we live, work or travel. Re-link Earth’s green infrastructure.
- Local, 3rd: If you live in the USA, yes take action locally, but the most important thing you can do, locally, is support global action. Second most important? Stop eating meat. Third? Get to it: composting, planting and rewilding!
- Global, 1st: Earth’s vital organ ecosystems are responsible for the majority of planetary biological productivity, food production, climate services, and biodiversity habitats. We must make them stronger than ever.
Bio-rich ecosystem are humanity’s primary asset.
This is what we must rebuild — on lands and its equivalent in waters:
Thanks for reading this series.
Synopsis/review coming tomorrow.
This blog is part 20 of a series on Biosphere Earth. Read the previous blog: Reconstruction Priorities. To review other posts in this series, visit the TOC.
- Check out my paper, The Systemic Climate Solution for more on the power of the Tropical Forests and this draft of my upcoming paper, Earth’s Biosphere = all GDPs + all Lives, for more science on our life-support system.